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April 15, 2013 | by  | in Arts Music | [ssba]

Life is a Veil of Tears

Attention devotees of New Zealand music: I have delightful news! After a five-year absence, a parting of ways with former label Rough Trade (an amicable one, just fyi!) and the formulation of a new label later, the band The Veils are back with an outstanding new album, Time Stays, We Go. Expect the unhinged, the deranged and the downright berserk. Just kidding! Though the aforementioned qualities are ones exemplified by the band’s breakthrough LP Nux Vomica, songwriter and frontman Finn Andrews tells me “I couldn’t sustain what I went through to make Nux for long”.

I interviewed Andrews over Skype in the comfort of my living room. I wore yesterday’s shirt, shorts, and prominent bed-hair; he was dressed impeccably, but still sounded utterly genuine when he called me ‘handsome’ (SWOON). His voice is lilting, geographically situated halfway between New Zealand and England. Though he has a certain posh English accent, the familiar New Zealand drawl shines through too.

When we talked about the new album, I asked whether he thought anything off it was suitable single material. “Absolutely nothing,” he responded. “We’re not playing songs that are meant to be played on the radio.” But, I riposte, what of the overt pop elements of his latest? It’s not that he doesn’t have “respect” for the “perfect craft” involved in making a good pop song, and indeed he has a certain knack for it as well, but The Veils have always been more complicated than that. His new album, I gather, is in a way a collection of pop songs that won’t get radio-play, as paradoxical as that sounds. It is a departure from his previous musical forays, but I get the impression that he would never be content with making the same thing twice. There is a restlessness to him: “I play a bit of everything,” he tells me, “even the violin”.

Andrews, son of a member of XTC and fawned over from a young age, moved to London to pursue his craft at 17. Was he excited? Nervous? Overwhelmed? “Terrified,” he corrects with a laugh. And yet, despite his meteoric rise, we find similarities with each other; we both reminisce about the special moment when one first breaks into one’s parents’ record collection (or in his case, his mum’s). We talk adolescent angst. Apparently, in spite of his paternal lineage, it was his mother who sparked his fascination with music: “She taught me the guitar”.

Time Stays, We Go is an enchanting album to listen to. One marvels at Andrews’ vocal range and adept musical ability from the outset, and certain indie touchstones are discerned: I detect a hint of The National in lieu of Tom Waits, and this is by no means a bad thing. While the Nux Vomica days are certainly behind him, you’re in safe hands with this’un. Listen loud and close.

We end our conversation by dredging up some New Zealand memories that make Andrews wistful. “Jumping off the Devonport wharf” gets mentioned, alongside “Grain Waves” and “my Mum”. “But not in that order,” he laughingly interjects. Whether he’ll miss them long is another matter; hopefully he’ll make a return this coming July, making sure to bring his manic live show with him. Get excited already: this one will be a doozy.


The Veils Time Stays, We Go out 26 April, via Rhythmethod.


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